Unfinished Projects

gayle0000September 10, 2010

I've been reading lots of old & new posts lately, and unfinished projects...home DIY or crafty projects...seems to be a recurring theme when it comes to clutter. I'm posting because I find this fascinating & wanted to just start a general conversation and see where it goes.

I know when there are general discussions, I've seen folks get defensive for whatever reason...and that's not the intent here. There hasn't been 1 particular post or poster that's sparking my thoughts...so no one should think they are "guilty" in getting me thinking. I'm hoping this will stay positive and insightful.

I'm the type where I finish something before I move to the next. I knit and quilt. I have 1 thing going, and don't even consider starting something new until the current project is done. I don't have knitting going on if I have a quilt in-progress.

Home DIY is the same thing. I start it and end it and nothing is left over for later. I will not start another project until the current is completely over. That's just me.

What is my mindset???...I don't want to store the yarn, fabric & stuff that accumulates with multiple projects. I don't want to live in a house where projects are pending...or items are collected and waiting to get done.

I work in the construction industry and I manage projects start to finish. We have start and stop dates. We have schedules, and we have final punchlists details which HAVE to be complete before anyone is done and/or gets paid and can move on. I know that probably explains my reasoning's and decisions for how I function when I do my own personal projects...because that's the world I live in.

I have a few friends who are the opposite and have lots of projects that are always in-progress...and they happen to be folks who are frustrated about their clutter.

I also see a theme of "excuse the mess, we have a lot of things in progress". I think many times that if one would make the decision to finish a job before moving to the next...and stop asking others and themselves to excuse the mess...the extra supplies, the disarray, etc., could be put away or go away. Order would be established, and then you can plan and finish the next thing.

I'm aware there are many factors and changes in life that may put a project to a stand-still for whatever reason...medical problems and the like.

I find it most interesting when there aren't firm reasons for things to be left undone.

Is the the idea of starting up seems great, and boredom sets in before the end?

Is it not having a solid game plan to start and end all the way?

Is there comfort in having things going on all the time?

Is there fear involved in the idea that the final product may not live up to the dream so it's safer to leave it undone?

Anyone have any commentary?

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Having more than one thing on the go does not necessarily mean clutter. I am extremely organized. I have a place for everything and it always goes away in that place after use.

I do have more than one project on the go and that's because I do different things in different places and can't stand to just sit with idle hands.

I do knitting or crochet or embroidery or smocking while I'm watching TV, so my basket that holds these things is beside the chair in the living room. I have a small bag with small things to do that comes with me to Dr's appointments and others where I know I may have to wait. These projects eventually get done.

When I sew one thing does get completed before I go on to the next one or other things. The same with DIY jobs. To me it's not the number of things you have started, but how organized you are and how you follow through on completing things.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 12:07PM
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One Christmas i was embroidering bibs for new neices, newborns. You know "Baby's First Christmas". It was getting down to the wire and neither one was finished. One was maybe one-quarter done, the other not started. I picked them up and threw them in the trash, as well as all my stash of embroidery floss and hoops. What a wonderful feeling of freedom! Those darned projects were gone, and hauled off with the rest of my garbage the next day. I bought the kids toys at my local store.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 3:42PM
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I imagine people get bored with one thing, so start another intending to alternate, but then maybe lose track. I don't think they meant for it to go sideways, but life's like that sometimes. Sometimes I'll start one thing, but then get what could be a better idea for the project and want to try that out before 'wasting time' finishing the original one.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 5:09PM
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Like Jannie, I also threw away unfinished projects and it felt WONDERFUL. Unfinished projects are like constant reminders of failure, bad idea, etc. and it's better to just throw them out and get that negative energy out of your house.

My best friend sucked me in to the scrapbooking craze. I did it for a while more to spend time with her than from any real love of it. She died 5 years go, and I finally got rid of that scrapbooking stuff last summer. It felt good to get it out of my house. I gave it to a coworker who likeds to do scrapbooking. I know my friend would be proud - she wouldn't want to be the source of any negative energy in my house.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 10:22PM
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I don't do that many crafts any more but when I did I always had a few different ones going because some took a long time and others were a few nights. If and when I got bored with one and knew that I wouldn't finish it any time soon I would get rid of it.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 4:27PM
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I think it's a good idea and wish I could do that Gayle. I do like to have a couple of projects going at once though. 1) a big one that keeps me busy when dh is watching football, and 2) handwork I can do while watching tv or sitting in a waiting room.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 7:10PM
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I just read your post and find your questions very thoughtful.

I think that the construction industry by it's very nature demands planning a clear path to completion and then executing it. My husband is a builder and I can see in his personal projects (he's an amateur astronomer who creates his own telescopes) that he's methodical and straightforward even if he takes plenty of time.

I'm different, though. I have MANY things going at once. Gardening projects that span a year or more, quilting, mail art, and photography. Ideas from one discipline cross lines, and find expression in another area of interest. Occasionally a project gets shelved, sometimes for years, until a solution reveals itself.

It's not boredom (though there's a certain tedium to hand stitching) or fear of failure (though I've had my share). If I wanted to get from A to B and finish, I'd paint by numbers. It's more a sense of creative unease. The fact that any particular work is incomplete doesn't aggravate me as much as the problem of how exactly I want to have it turn out. For me, finding the answer is often an unconscious process. I have to leave it alone for a while.

There IS a difference between re-modeling a bathroom (though that takes skill and vision as well) and working on a piece of art. Sometimes I just have to let it settle and use the down time on that particular piece to work on something else. For me, creativity does not (always) follow a straight line by a certain date (though a deadline has often given a needed jolt).

As for the clutter involved with working the way I do, well, I can't stand chaos but will put up with some mild disorder to reach an end. If a quilt is stalled for some reason (after 40 years, I've come to favor improvisational quilts over my earlier named patterned ones), I keep it out where I can think about it but put away everything else having to do with actually making the quilt. Ditto with mail art or photography; I display the work and live with it but put away the tools. Sometimes it takes a good period of seeing/ignoring a piece while I engage in other projects before it's resolved. This, however, does not alway make for a serene dining room table. Occasionally, I've put something completely away and truly buried it, say in a box in the closet. Often when I come across it much later, the answer is clear; sort of like when you get stuck on a crossword puzzle but the next morning the solution is obvious.

Am I comforted by having unfinished projects? Not really. I like evidence that I'm productive and I like the sense of possibility, but I have given away, made something else out of or tossed work that I finally decided was irredeemable. There's no real time limit but if I sense failure, I can accept it when it happens. But only after a decent struggle.


PS. I am, however, a first class procrastinator at paying bills!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 12:46AM
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I love the idea of having small portable projects in a bag ready to carry out the door.

I will have multiple projects but not spread about. I have an unfinished painting, but it's hung on the wall, lol. The paints are all put away though. And if too much time has passed, I freecycle the project and its materials.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 2:03PM
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I thing my projects sort of follow the theme of "to everything there is a season". It's not a fear. I just find that my life follows what is going on in my household during a specific time. At Christmas, I work on Christmas projects. During summer, I work on kid projects. Throughout the school year, I work on projects that the school or whatever groups my kids are in. My stuff kind of gets shoved to the side. I can't leave it out to finish out later because pieces may be missing by then.

I used to love to buy fabric and make quilt tops. My life has changed to where I don't have the luxery of major projects. I've found I complete more projects if I take on smaller projects like Christmas ornaments instead. I keep older projects around because I know that one of these days my kids will grow up. I also sometimes get rid of the old projects. If there is something I have that could be used now, I use it. If my kids need the supplies for a project, we use it.

I tend to have more of a creative mind which means I'm not as good at organizing. I've started to accept that there are some areas I can work on and better organize. Some areas will stay cluttered. I'm ok with that for now.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 6:34PM
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